How to Tune the Mandolin. One of the first things you need to learn as a beginning mandolin player is how to tune your instrument yourself. Performing this relatively simple task well will improve your music since playing with a well-tuned instrument automatically makes your music sound better.
Hold your mandolin on your lap with the neck pointing to the left. The pair of strings closest to your knee is the E strings, next are the A strings, the D strings and the G strings on top.
Begin with the top two strings, the G strings. Use your piano or tuner to play a G. Strum your mandolin's G stings and listen to hear if they sound the same as the source note.
Loosen the strings if your mandolin sounds sharp (too high.) If it sounds flat (too low) tighten the strings.
Press that well-tuned pair of strings down firmly at the seventh fret, the space between the sixth and seventh metal strips on the mandolin's neck, and pluck those strings.
Pluck the third D string and compare the sound with the sound of the G string. Tighten or loosen the D strings until their sound matches the sound of the G strings while you are holding the G strings at the seventh fret.
Hold the D strings down at the seventh fret (once you have the desired sound) and tune the A string until their sounds match.
Tune the E strings by holding the A strings down and the seventh fret and matching the sound like you did for the other notes.
Be sure to turn the tuning pegs at the same time you are plucking the string to hear the change in tone. If your mandolin sounds very sharp, the strings are too tight. This is hard on your instrument's strings, head and neck. Each string of the mandolin's pairs should sound exactly the same. This gives the mandolin its haunting, echoing quality.